Two spectacular free kicks from Mikey Ambrose and a game-winning goal from Brandon Vazquez allowed Atlanta United 2 to grind out a 5-4 win against Toronto FC II Wednesday night at Coolray Field in a back-and-forth battle.
“It feels good. It was definitely a little more interesting than we would’ve hoped, but it’s three points nonetheless,” said ATL UTD 2 head coach Scott Donnelly. “We accomplished some of the things that we wanted to as far as getting some players some time and in different spots, bringing some sharpness to some guys. Another debut for an academy player in Will Crain. More interesting than it should’ve been, or that we wanted it to be, but at the end of it all its three points.”
Ambrose opened the nine-goal thriller in the 5th minute after Romario Williams drew a foul at the edge of the 18-yard box. From the right side, Ambrose drilled a left-footed free kick over the wall and into the bottom right corner for his first goal of the season. Toronto tied the match in the 17th minute when Aiden Daniels sent in a cross from the left side for Ayo Akinola to tap-in from inside the six-yard box.
ATL UTD 2 regained the lead in the 27th minute from a play which started with Laurent Kissiedou dribbling through two defenders and playing Jon Gallagher down the right side. The Irish forward sent a looping cross to the back post where an unmarked Romario Williams smashed home a volley into the right side of the goal.
In an almost identical spot as his first free kick, Ambrose doubled Atlanta’s lead in the 40th minute when he curled his second free kick goal of the night into the upper-right corner to give ATL UTD 2 a 3-1 advantage. Just before the half, however, Toronto pulled a goal back when Daniels drew a penalty and converted the ensuing attempt in the 44th minute.
Toronto quickly leveled the score out of the break with a goal from Luca Uccello in the 48th minute set the score at 3-3, but Atlanta responded two minutes later when Gallagher tallied his fifth goal of the season. Williams sent a cross from the left side of the penalty area to Gallagher, who chested the ball down and quickly struck a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner to make it 4-3 Atlanta.
Uccello scored his second game-tying goal in the 61st minute after he was played in behind the Atlanta defense for a one-on-one with Atlanta goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt. In his first start of the year, Hildebrandt stopped the initial shot, but the ball bounced right back into the path of Uccello for a tap-in and brought the match back on level-terms.
Atlanta pushed for the game-winning goal and was rewarded in the 80th after a shot from substitute Jose Carranza was redirected by Vazquez and found the back of the net.